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Thanksgiving Thoughts a Day Late

November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving is a weird holiday for me.  It’s both my favorite holiday and I’m native American. 

When The Ex and I lived on the reservation, we heard a lot of talk about how Thanksgiving was the beginnings of genocide and colonialism.  The first Thanksgiving was nothing more than a harvest festival shared by natives and the colonists.  They each introduced new ideas to the other, which is always a Good Thing.  Europeans do not have a corner on the market for harvest festivals.  Cultures around the globe have thanked God for their bountiful harvests for as long as people have worshipped a deity.

Thanksgiving didn’t become a regular occurrence until about 1660 and it didn’t become a national holiday until 1863.  Before then, it was celebrated at various times. There isn’t even consensus on WHEN the first Thanksgiving actually was.  Some say it wasn’t the one in Massachusetts but one held earlier by the Spanish.

If we want to rail against the beginnings of genocide, we should choose a different date. Columbus Day seems like a good choice to me.  It was Columbus’ introduction of Europeans to America that started the whole thing.

I believe colonization was inevitable.  Natives weren’t all the warring people you see on television.  Sure, some nations were violent. Many were not.  None of them had the weapons the Europeans had or the number of men.  The nations weren’t all a united front any more than Europe is a united front.  People say they were savages but all they really were was Not Christian.  To anyone who wants to say things like “Well, but they scalped people!” I say, “and the French beheaded people.  Have you heard of the Spanish Inquisition? The Crusades?”  All savage practices.

Thanksgiving isn’t about colonialism or genocide.  It’s about being thankful for the blessings we have received throughout the year.  It’s about being grateful for all the we have been given, that we have earned, that we have received.  As a country, I believe Americans are short on gratitude.  We are so focused on what we don’t have that we forget what we DO have.

Like many of you, I forget to be grateful on a daily basis.  I remember more often than once a year, but I love the idea of a holiday that focuses on gratitude, on family and on food. I love the holiday whether I spend it with my family of origin, with friends or by myself. I spend the day thinking about all the things for which I have to be grateful.

I have a family who loves and supports me.  I have friends who love me.  I have an apartment filled with things, both that I need and quite a few that I just want.  I have a job to pay for the things I need.  I have two snuggly dogs who like nothing better than for me to watch television so that they can sleep in my lap. I have a truck to get me places safely. I have a computer so that I can do my work, but also so that I can connect to the world.  I am a woman who is blessed in so many ways.

I also like to be thankful for the sillier things and for things that wouldn’t seem like are cause for gratitude. I’m thankful for CBS who has given me several of my favorite TV shows: NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles and Criminal Minds.  Not to mention cable for all the reality TV shows that I can’t seem to stop watching.  I’m thankful for the Willard Public Library because they have every book I ever want to read. I am thankful for Facebook because it allows me to stay in much closer contact with people I love who don’t live near me.  I am thankful for Twitter for distracting me when I’m waiting for someone/something.  I’m grateful for every ex I have because each of them has taught me something that has gotten me closer to being the woman I want to be when I grow up. I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with my boys, even though losing them almost killed me. I’m grateful for the friends who tell me the things I don’t want to hear because I need them.  I’m grateful for Tater Tot Casserole because  … well, it’s Tater Tot Casserole.  I’m grateful I grew up poor, in one of the worst neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, because it gave me an insight into other races and cultures that I would never have had otherwise.  I am grateful that we lived in that trailer park because it showed me exactly who I did NOT want to be. I’m thankful for my microwave because I put off getting one for 2 months, so I truly appreciate it now.

Jan Karon, one of my favorite authors, has written a series of books about an Episcopal priest, named Father Tim, in a small town in North Carolina.  I’ve read every one of those books at least half a dozen times, some more. In one of them, Father Tim gives a sermon where he says, “In all things, give thanks.”  ALL things. Not just the good things.

For what are you thankful? Not just the usual things, but the things, both large and small, that make up your life? That make your life better somehow?


From → Holidays

One Comment
  1. I absolutely adore Jan Karon’s series. How could I possibly have forgotten that part of her books? I think this might be a good time for me to re-read the Mitford series. I need a very good dose of gratitude right now. It’s so hard to be thankful when you struggle every day for the most basic of needs to be met. I, my dear, am truly thankful for you. You are so often my light in the darkness. When I’m down and need to be lifted up you are there. Or when I’m acting like an idiot and need a good gobsmack of reality, you are there. It is true that I am blessed with many friends but my goodness, you and I have been through so much together and there is something very precious about a best friend. I am truly grateful to have you in my life each and every day.

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